• Published 28th Aug 2020
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My Little Pony: Eternal Harmony - LightOfTriumph

Luster Dawn moves to Ponyville on her Mentor's instructions, and comes into contact with a threat even Twilight never faced.

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Chapter 6: Satisfaction Guaranteed

Luster Dawn wasn't used to walking this quickly for any amount of time, let alone the near thirty minutes it took for them to cut across town and down the route to Sweet Apple Acres. Thankfully the pace slowed as soon as Pound Cake and Down Beat caught sight of somepony. A mare with a pinkish coat, and purple and white mane. She wore a very professional suit, and a glittering tiara.

"Hey, Pound," Down Beat said, drawing Pound Cake's attention to the very professional looking pony. "Didn't you need to talk to her?"

"Indeed I did, thank you," Pound Cake ran ahead of the group to catch up to her. "Di! We need to talk!"

The Pony turned to look at Pound Cake. "Well it took you long enough to get back to me," she said, raising an eyebrow. "I hope everything's ready. This is an incredibly important meeting for the company."

"And the donuts will be to your weirdly exact specifications," Pound said, "Dad has been slaving away to meet them, and they will be ready when you need them. Mom also wanted me to tell you that the world will not collapse into chaos for the sake of a shareholders meeting, and that all of this nonsense is bad for your blood pressure."

"Well," the mare said indignantly, her expression and demeanor slowly softening. "How are your parents? Is your father over that cold? Did he get the-"

"Yeah, he got the flowers," Pound smiled. "Oh, introductions to be made. Luster!"

Luster Dawn perked up and gave a little wave.

"Diamond Tiara, this is Luster Dawn, our new Transplant from Canterlot," Pound Cake smiled. "Luster this is Diamond Tiara, president and CEO of Barnyard Baragains."

"Pleasure to meet you," Diamond Tiara said politely. "I'm assuming we're all going to see the same pony."

"Your sister is still at work, then?" Down Beat called out.

"She better be, I broke my back trying to get her this internship," Diamond Tiara grumbled. "Everyone follow me, this way to Sweet Apple Acres."

The last half of the walk to the farm was slower than the first half. Luster Dawn got the impression that they would walk at the pace Diamond Tiara set, and no faster. Eventually the farm came into vision, and a Mare, a little older than Luster Dawn was working in the field. One with a light yellow coat, scarlet mane, and a bright pink bow."

"Bloom!" Diamond Tiara called out. "We need to talk!"

"I told you before, Di," the mare sighed, looking back at the approaching group of ponies. "Zapapples are real particular. You can't just get cuttin's of them and grow new ones, it don't work like that."

"Your stubborn resistance to progress aside, that isn't what I'm here for," Di said grumpily. "I'm here to see my sister. Is she here?"

"Yeah, hang on," Bloom said. She turned back to the orchard. "Creme Rich! You better get down here, your sister is here to see you." She turned back to Diamond Tiara. "You gonna explain why you brought the entourage?"

"Ah yes," Diamond Tiara said. "Miscellaneous Equine assets, this is Apple Bloom. Apple Bloom these are the Miscellaneous Equine Assets. You've met most of them already."

"Nice to see you guys, are you doing alright?" Apple Bloom smiled.

There was a general murmur of agreement from the five ponies.

"I'm sorry, I don't think I've met you yet" Apple Bloom said directly to Luster.

"Luster Dawn, Ma'am," she responded.

"Good to know you," Apple Bloom smiled. "Now, where the hoof is Creme gotten off to? I swear, that pony is--"

"Harvest is going well. Mac and Sugar Belle are working on the south orchard, we should be done by the day," came a dry voice from behind the farmhouse. A pony made her way to the front. A mare, perhaps a younger then Luster, with a light purple coat and a white Mane that was rather mussy. A translucent visor gave her face a nice green glow from the sun shining through it. "Thirteen hundred apples shipped off to Canterlot at the going rate. Cider selling permits have been renewed without issue. Bat sanctuary is producing amazing results. Thirty new barrels. Fifteen orders in from in and out of town. And a partridge in a pear tree."

"Good to see your keeping yourself busy, Creme," Apple Bloom said dryly.

"Seriously there's a partridge in your mom's pear tree," Creme said calmly. "I can't get him to leave."

"Creme, I needed to talk to you about the whole situation with the Manehattan Branch," Diamond Tiara said calmly. "We've got a shareholders meeting next week, it will be good for the image if the whole family is there. That means you. Clear your schedule and get it done."

"Got it," Creme Rich nodded. "I'll be there with bells on. Tell mom and dad if they need any info on the shareholders..."

"They know to talk to you," Diamond Tiara said. "Now how are you eating? Are you eating? Do you need me to send you anything, because I can talk to Daddy and get it set up--"

"Sis, I'm fine," Creme said. "Thanks for caring. Tell Dad not to send anything that would compromise my exercise plan. I love you Sis."

"Love you, too," Diamond Tiara smiled. "Now, Apple Bloom, we need to talk about the Zapapples this year, I'm hoping we can get a larger batch then last year."

"You know that ain't up to me," Apple Bloom said. The conversation continued as they walked back into the farmhouse.

This left six ponies alone outside. It took Down Beat to strike up the conversation again. "Hey, Creme, Guess what!" he said excitedly. "Guess what!"

Creme Rich gave Beat a long, dry stare. "There's a new pony in town?"

"There's a new pony in town!" Down Beat said gleefully. "This is Luster Dawn, she's Mercury's new Coworker. We were hoping you could do the thing."

"I can't do the thing," Creme said immediately.

"You can always do the thing," Pound Cake protested.

"I'm too tired to do the thing," Creme shot back.

"Creme, please do the thing!" Pumpkin Cake whined.

Creme rolled her eyes. "Fine, I'll do the thing."

"What are you guys talking about?" Luster finally spoke up, now very, very confused. "What thing?"

"Just trust us," Mercury said. "The Thing is amazing."

Creme Rich took a position in front of Luster Dawn. She stared at her up and down for about thirty seconds, before nodding. "A traveling booklight," she said simply.

A feeling of celebration washed around the rest of the group. Luster grew even more confused.

"Hm, interesting," Pumpkin Cake said, barely able to keep a straight face. "Why do you say that Miss Rich?"

"Simple," Creme said, straightening up. "I'm looking at an academic. She spends a lot of her time reading, though she's also constantly busy. She has been standing here after walking a long distance, and her legs aren't shaking, and she hasn't felt the need to sit down. Also, her eyes can be better. I'm assuming those little indents in your muzzle are for reading glasses? And since you came here working for Starlight Glimmer, I'm assuming you're not the one in charge of where you're going most of the time. What you usually do is errands for other people. And, as you saw with my sister taking charge, that means waiting. Sometimes, it means waiting a really long time. A lot of the time it means waiting in places with little to no light. Certainly not light efficient for reading. So, what you need to make your admittedly hectic life just a little less stressful is a traveling booklight. Just so you can cool your brain while you're waiting for the next appointment. That will be aisle sixteen. Thank you for shopping Barnyard Bargains! Please consider picking up are rewards card for exclusive savings, and the Barn Door Points program! Have a nice day!"

The rest of the group made a much louder celebration now. Luster Dawn could see why. She was absolutely spot on. "That was... Incredible," Luster said, still reeling from the shock of the penetrating analysis. "How could you tell?"

"It's a gift," Creme shrugged. "Facts and figures. That's all the world is, facts and figures. Now, that's going to sound a little cold, but I don't think it is. If you see things the way they really are, you can do your best to help them. And helping people isn't just good for the soul, it's good for business. I want to take over for my sister one day, or at the very least make a name for myself. So I make it my business to find out exactly what everypony needs, and see if I can provide it. Looking at you five..." The expression on Creme Rich's face turned serious. "You all need confirmation that you didn't see a ghost. Sorry, I can't help you there."

The five ponies looked around, and suddenly the creeping feeling returned. Stronger than before.

"Something is up, and we need to talk to you," Mercury explained. "For some reason we can't explain--"

"All of you have felt like you're late for an appointment," Creme nodded. "Too afraid to look back or look forward. You just have the feeling that something terrible is going to happen. You can't shake the feeling like this is gonna be one of the worst days of your life."

"At least I know its everybody now," Pumpkin sighed. "Creme, there's magic in the air. It doesn't feel like the nice kind. I need to ask you a question. Creme, have you seen Applejack or Rainbow Dash today?"

Creme's eyes widened slowly and her jaw dropped. "Pumpkin, I need you to tell me that you've seen Pinkie Pie today," she said in a very serious tone. "I need to hear that you've seen a council member this afternoon."

"We haven't," Down Beat spoke up. "None of us have. They're late coming back from the meeting."

"AJ is married to a military pony," Creme said, now pacing in a circle. "We assumed that there was some kind of emergency at Wonderbolt Headquarters. But if you haven't seen Pinkie Pie... Oh this is bad, this is a universe of bad."

"Creme, calm down," Pound Cake said. "Take it slowly. This is moving past dread and into pure undiluted panic. What's going on?"

Creme took a deep breath. "I work here as an intern," she explained. "Just trying to get a feel of how some things are actually done in a business. So I take care of a lot of the little things that the apples are too busy to take care of. I get coffee, I talk with deliverponies, I arrange pickups, and most pertinent to this story, I check the mail. Now the council has an alarm system, kind of a call to arms. They'll receive a special letter in the mail, usually delivered separate from the main post, and that will warn them if the princess is in danger. I saw those letters in the mail today. We've gotten them before."

"So has Aunt Pinkie," Pumpkin nodded. "Usually it's just a drill. Just to make sure the system works."

"AJ and Dash got one of those letters each today," Creme responded. "I was willing to assume it was just another drill, but if you haven't seen Pinkie today..."

"Then the situation is far worse than you thought," came a casual voice from behind them. "And that's saying something."

The voice turned all of the worry she had been feeling since the beginning of the day into pure panic. The world had turned from on the precipice, to over the brink. As if the planet, spinning on its axis at thousands of miles an hour had come to a sudden and complete stop.

Whatever crisis that had been slowly building throughout the day had finally found Luster Dawn.

They turned around to face the source of the voice. The blue-suited pony was sitting under an apple tree, eating one of its fruit. They looked into his pitch black eyes peering out through his rust colored mane. If they had noticed nothing else about this strange pony, they would have called his expression friendly.

"You know," he said, looking lovingly at the apple. "You really can't beat these when they're straight off the tree. Here. Want a bite?"

Luster tried to say something. To ask it a question. To scream for help. She was, however, rendered utterly speechless. She couldn't explain it but this... thing wasn't equine. It was something far older, far darker and far more terrifying.

"No?" it said. It threw the apple behind it and strided past the stunned ponies. "Town Square. Five minutes. It's time you knew what was going on here."

Author's Note:

We're coming up on the end of act one. Everypony strap in.

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